What Does Accreditation Mean Exactly?
The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) succinctly defines accreditation as:
In other words, an accrediting body (like JCAHO) is an independent 3rd party that measures and rates the regulations, safety guidelines, and practices of a service or business--in this case, medical facilities.
Think of it as a stamp of approval verifying the authenticity and quality of services.Â A restaurant in the US can't open unless it passes certain health inspection codes, and a lawyer can't begin practicing until he or she has passed a qualifying exam (bar).Â The same is true with medical practitioners and facilities.Â They must demonstrate to accrediting bodies that they possess the personnel, resources, training, experience, and regulatory understanding to provide quality medical treatment to patients.
Hospitals that lack accreditation are hospitals worth avoiding.Â However, JCAHO is not the only accrediting organization out there.Â There are agencies that focus on region, specialty, and country.Â For a partial list of these organizations, please visit our section on Other Accrediting Bodies.